Posted in Chickens, Gardens, Pets

Tribute to Florence

Florence

Just over three years on from her arrival at Cosy Cottage, Florence crossed over the Rainbow Bridge following a period of ill health.

Florence’s life and death left a bigger impact on me than I thought possible with a hen. It was Florence who really showed me how complex and lovable chickens really were. And what an impact such tiny creatures can have on their human guardians.

She made me smile and worry and feel protective.

She made me laugh, like the time she was brooding and stubbornly insisted on sitting on a plant pot after I closed the coop door.

Broody Flo

She taught me to be more patient and caring during her illness.

And to be less screamish about mealworms!

Flo first arrived with her two sisters Jemima and Dottie in 2017, they were slightly older than her by a couple of weeks. The difference in Florence and her siblings was apparent straight away. While Jemima was quiet and reserved and Dottie was chatty, they were both confident in themselves and about humans. No, they did not want to be picked up, thank you very much, but this was only because it was their personal preference. They were not scared of humans on arrival. Merely tolerated them.

Florence, on the other hand, was terrified. When she saw a human, she flapped her wings and made a big fuss.

“Murder! I’m being murdered!”

It’s hard to believe now but this state of fear was really the case for the first few weeks of Flo’s life here.

Florence

She was a real little scaredy chicken.

Was the sky going to fall in? It was, it was!!!

Oh dear, poor Flo.

Dottie would then helpfully peck her on the top of her head to put her back in her place.

And then, as I wrote in https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/florence/

Florence changed from a frightened Cinders into a confident and charismatic Cinderella.

She became popular with all. When my godchildren came to visit, she proved a big hit with Noah, five at the time. As she was the only hen laying, she was the most amenable for being picked up. Which she was. A lot. But Flo’s patience shone through.

Dad admitted she was his favourite and Mum described her as the “best hen”.

I think it was because of her personality, but the eggs would have helped too.

Of all the chickens, she was the best layer. During spring and summer (except when brooding), she laid eggs nearly every second day. This year there was no brooding so she broke all records for her egg laying.

No mean feat for a little Pekin bantam.

And the eggs were absolutely delicious.

She knew it too. How Flo boasted about her eggs after she laid them! Her egg song proclaimed her eggs were the best of all the world! Not just the world, the universe!

But she also had her broody moments, where she proved very stubborn indeed. She was going to have chicks and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Florence and Jemima

Her broody adventures can be seen here: https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/brooding-buddies/

and here: https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2019/08/17/the-broody-sisters/

Jemima, Dottie and Florence

Flo was very independent, often seen doing her own thing, digging away for worms. Worms was her favourite food. Whenever I held a bag of mealworms, she would be jumping, trying to grab them from my hand. When I started digging, she would be first there, eagerly anticipating tasty creepy crawlies.

She was also demanding. Especially first thing in the morning when she would insist that it was time to be let out of the coop.

Did I say she was popular with everyone?

Hmm, maybe not the neighbours.

There’s a reason why the girls have longer lie-ins these days.

I used to have to run to let them out during the early mornings before a squawking Florence would fly and jump angrily at the coop door.

“Let me out! For **** sake, I’ll be missing the worms!” I could imagine her screeching.

Florence had her ups and downs with her friends. She never had any ‘besties’ and was often on her own, digging away. Although when it was brooding time, she was often seen cuddling up to Jemima, her fellow brooder.

Dottie always seemed to patronise her, pecking her in a “I’m bigger and older than you” sort of way. But it was Mabel who she had a real feud with. A feud that started a year ago when Florence was brooding – in what Mabel perceived as her nesting space.

This summer, Florence had a welcome break from Mabel when her enemy was stuck indoors.

‘Staying at Home’ like a good girl during lockdown? No, she was brooding, waiting for imaginary eggs to hatch. Sometimes – the irony – she would be in what Flo would think was her nesting space and Flo would fuss and grumble until I took Mabel out and left Flo to do her hard work in peace. Eventually Flo realised that there were other levels and other corners in the coop, which could also be used to lay eggs in.

But when Flo was out enjoying herself and saw her broody foe come out of the coop, she would give a loud screech.

“**** off!”

And sometimes she would ‘swear’ for no known reason.

Ava and Florence investigate the wood shavings

Flo always came across as a sweet girl so her reaction to the new kids on the block, Mabel and Ava, was very surprising. The pair came to Cosy Cottage a year after Flo, Dottie and Jemima. Of course, I had heard that chickens could be hostile to newbies to the pecking order but somehow I expected more of Florence.

But no, instead of acting like a good neighbour, when she saw the new ladies, she flew at their coop in a fit of anger.

Towards the end, when I looked after Flo in my house, she proved to be a determined girl as she battled illness. A scratch on her eye developed into an infection. She went to the vet on two occasions, receiving antibiotics, an injection and painkiller. But despite a brief recovery, she took a downturn and never recovered.

On her last day, I thought she had gone but then she half opened her eye … as if to say “goodbye”.

Florence

Goodbye Flo, a golden girl in colour and personality, the garden and coop feel a lot quieter without you.

* For those who don’t know, Rainbow Bridge is a poetic term for the afterlife for animals.

Author:

Interested in environmental issues, wildlife, spirituality, gardening, self-sufficiency and mini-adventures. There are two blogs, one is https://mysabbatical2014.wordpress.com/ and the other, more recent one, is - https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/ ☺️

18 thoughts on “Tribute to Florence

  1. I am so sorry to hear of Florence’s crossing the rainbow bridge. I never would have thought of chickens as pets or companions, but your posts have definitely enlightened me about their personalities. 😢🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I used to think the same, never thinking that chickens would make good pets but I then heard of other people keeping them as pets and looked into it and never looked back. Unfortunately the worst thing about keeping chickens is when they get ill and die, like any other pet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry Clare – I just got to Reader to catch up and going from top to bottom I saw “Tribute” – please forgive my reply to your comment that I said I hoped Florence was doing better. You have done a beautiful tribute to Florence. I know I was heartbroken when I lost both my canaries, both of them in December, shortly before the holidays. We get so attached to our feathered friends and when they cross to the Rainbow Bridge, it leaves us so empty. I am glad Florence opened an eye to say “goodbye” … that was a magical moment for you. I am sorry for your loss Clare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Linda. I never had pet birds before so didn’t expect to get so attached to them. I think that’s always a problem with having pets, we get attached but then they pass away and it’s always sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome Clare. People think the pet of choice has to be a dog or cat. I’ve never had a cat, I had dogs as a kid and my parents never could get them trained and one ran away and ate poison someone had in their yard … and it was a poodle. Birds have a lot to give, they are smart and are great companions. We had a parakeet who talked a blue streak and he got a tumor and died. My mother and I were just inconsolable but at least we had each other. We vowed to never get another pet, but we took care of my neighbor’s canary when she went to Arizona for three weeks to visit her sick mother. I was just to go to her house and feed/clean him once a day, but it was too cold and I brought him here to the house. We spoiled him silly and when he went back home, he moped and would not sing, so my neighbor gave him to us. His name was Sugar and he passed away in front of me from a respiratory infection. I said then I would never have another pet. It was the same year my mom died and I have no family. My neighbor said “you work from home, it is near Christmas, you live alone, you need another pet, so I got Buddy in December 2010. My kitchen is too quiet without my Buddy nearby … that little joy was snuffed out when I had to have him euthanized when he had a stroke. I will never forget him looking at me. But I won’t get another pet of any kind now. It is just too tough to lose them. I’ve adopted the squirrels and now worry about them and hawks going after them. I lost all the squirrels at my house in the Spring this year … Cooper’s Hawks and I live in the city, not in a rural area. That broke my heart. I won’t feed them any more as I don’t want it to happen again.

        Liked by 1 person

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